Is Photobucket Web 2.0?

I’ve been meaning to blog about something for a few days now, but various events in my personal life (including a move to a new house and a sick family member) have kept me from doing so. The something I wanted to blog about was a post by LeeAnn Prescott of the Web-tracking firm Hitwise, which looked at the traffic stats for various photo sites, including Flickr and Shutterfly (which is controlled by former Netscape CEO Jim Clark and has filed to go public).

One of the interesting things about the numbers LeeAnn provided, which drew a lot of commentary on, was that Flickr — despite being by far the most widely talked about photo site, at least from a Web 2.0 perspective — came in fairly far down on the list of top 10 photo sites. Number one by a landslide was a site hardly anyone talks about: Photobucket, which (unless I’m mistaken) gets the vast majority of its traffic from MySpace and other social networking sites, by providing an easy photo hosting service for blogs.

LeeAnn’s Hitwise item sparked a fairly extensive response from Flickr co-founder Stewart Butterfield, who tried to post a comment on TechCrunch but apparently had difficulty getting it past the spam filter. I wound up seeing his comment a day or two later on Paul Kedrosky’s blog. Paul liked Stewart’s comment so much that he later elevated it to post status.

Stewart’s comment/post is worth reading, if only to see the (in some cases) large discrepancies between Hitwise traffic numbers and those from Comscore Media Metrix and Nielsen/NetRatings. But it also brings up the issue of whether Photobucket and Flickr really compete or not. One is a community — Web 2.0 if you will — and one is just a hosting service, which is more Web 1.0. And yet Photobucket is the plumbing behind a very Web 2.0 service such as MySpace, and it has 48 per cent market share and is still growing.

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